Walk/Don’t Walk Revisited

In an earlier post, I mentioned that the city of Fairhope does not have pedestrian crossing signals. That is now changing! As part of the City’s continuing campaign to create a “walkable community,” these signals are currently being installed at some major intersections on Greeno Road (U.S. Highway 98) to supplement the miles of sidewalks the City had previously created. Time will tell whether these signals are classic plain-vanilla ones or the sort of high-tech ones I reported on before.

As for the day-to-day walk/don’t walk decision, this has been a bad week for walking (for me). In the end we did get about 4.5″ of rain from T.D. Fay, spread out over Sunday and Monday and preventing walking either day. Tuesday and Thursday were ballet days, and Friday morning I had an early Rotary board meeting and didn’t get home till 9 a.m., too late for a walk. So this morning was only the second time I’ve been out this week.

Wednesday morning’s walk took 46 minutes (compared to the usual 38–41) because so many of the people I ran into were inclined to discuss the results of the previous day’s municipal election. The outcome of the mayoral election stunned the supporters of at least some of the five candidates who didn’t make it into the runoff, and there’s considerable interest in whether the incumbent can withstand a challenge from the opponent who outpolled him on Tuesday, especially if all the voters who voted for other opponents flock to the frontrunner’s cause. The runoff takes place on October 7, and it bids fair to be an interesting month.

Today’s walk was interesting in another way: another storm is on the way (Gustav, which has now reached Category 4 strength), and a few residents have begun to batten down. We did go and collect our generator from our rented storage bin and hope that (and the six cans of Vienna sausages we bought yesterday) will be enough to encourage the storm to go elsewhere.

It was as we were driving home with the generator that we noticed the new pedestrian signals being installed. My husband recalled having heard years ago about students at Florida State University “playing Walk/Don’t Walk.” This was a prank whose successful execution requires a large number of participants (such as a student body). How it worked was that a long line of students would walk through town, single-file. When they reached an intersection, they would begin to cross it when the signal flashed “WALK.” When it changed to “DON’T WALK,” they would stop—in the middle of the intersection. Since there was a continuous line of students, this meant that intersections all over town were continuously blocked. Needless to say, the Tallahassee police were not amused. This sounds like the sort of stunt that would appeal to the pranksters of Improv Everywhere (not that I want to be accused of suggesting it to them!).

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